Asia: Stocks mixed as tax vote awaits; yields climb

 People walk past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo.
People walk past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG)- Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday (Dec 20) after US benchmarks dipped, with investors awaiting the final votes on US tax-cut legislation. Bond yields climbed amid focus on the outlook for increased supply in 2018, with less central bank buying.

Japanese equity benchmarks saw small gains, while those in Seoul and Sydney were flat. The S&P 500 Index slipped from a record Tuesday. Longer-dated US Treasury yields jumped to the highest since October overnight, with traders attributing the move to an unwinding of bets on a shrinking gap with shorter-dated notes. European yields also climbed overnight.

Most fund managers see US tax cuts boosting bond yields, along with stocks, next year, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch monthly survey showed. A net 83 per cent of respondents viewed bond markets as overvalued.

The bump in American yields did little to help the dollar, which traded within recent ranges against the euro and yen. Oil climbed after news of a surprise drop in US crude stockpiles. South Korean tourism-related stocks, such as cosmetics makers, will be in focus after a report that China is again banning package tours to its neighbour.

Among the key events investors will be watching this week: The US and UK publish updated estimates of third-quarter GDP.

The Bank of Japan meets on Thursday to set monetary policy.

Catalonia votes in an election on Thursday that will pose a test for the Spanish region's secession movement.

And these are the main moves in markets: Stocks Japan's Topix index was up 0.2 per cent as of 10.15am in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 0.1 per cent.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index rose 0.2 per cent after the underlying gauge declined 0.3 per cent on Tuesday.

Futures on Hong Kong's Hang Seng were down 0.4 per cent.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was little changed.

CURRENCIES

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index closed little changed on Tuesday.

The euro traded at US$1.1845 after climbing 0.5 per cent on Tuesday.

The Japanese yen was at 112.92 per dollar after slipping 0.3 per cent.

BONDS

The yield on 10-year Treasuries jumped 7 basis points on Tuesday, to 2.46 per cent. It slipped to 2.45 per cent in early Wednesday trading.

Australian 10-year yields increased about 6 basis points, to 2.63 per cent.

Germany's 10-year yield climbed seven basis points to 0.38 per cent on Tuesday.

Commodities West Texas Intermediate crude was little changed at US$57.76 a barrel after advancing 0.7 per cent on Tuesday.

Gold was at US$1,262.65 an ounce.